'Disposable' AK-47s — trend that worries cops
Henry Pierson Curtis
Sentinel Staff Writer
October 11, 2008
Orange County's latest murders reflect an alarming trend for law enforcement: urban firefights with dozens of shots fired.
The shooters in Tuesday night's double killing outside a Pine Hills apartment complex emptied two AK-47s into the victims and fled, discarding the assault rifles, two handguns and a shotgun.
"They just disposed of them like disposable cigarette lighters, I guess, because they're so easy to get," sheriff's homicide Detective Dave Clark said Friday. "I mean, it's really unusual for people to leave stuff like this behind."
Andre Patterson, 27, and Joshua Sharpe, 25, were shot repeatedly in the parking lot of Kensington Cottages apartments on Burroughs Drive off Hiawassee Road. Crime-scene technicians found 58 cartridges fired by the AK-47s and an undisclosed number from the other firearms.
One of the AK-47s had a 30-shot magazine. The other had a 40-shot magazine. Both had been fired until empty.
"We've come across something like this on three or four occasions this year with multiple weapons," said homicide Sgt. Allen Lee. "Just a couple of weeks ago when those [five] people got shot in Apopka, there were at least three different bursts of gunfire while we were there. And there were at least four to nine shots each time."
Crimes involving assault weapons have become so common that police officials across the nation are discussing how to contain the national problem, Sheriff Kevin Beary said this week. "We need to have a round-table with the Police Executive Research Foundation to get some answers," he said.
In the days since the double killing, detectives had learned that Patterson and Sharpe drove to the apartments to help a friend arguing with residents. The two groups clashed. Exactly why is still being investigated to identify the killers, Detective Brian Cross said.
The gunfight continued after deputies began arriving in patrol cars shortly after the 11:25 p.m. 911 call, according to interviews.
"They could have gotten hit," said Clark, noting patrol cars provide virtually no protection against assault rifles.
The victims' minivan and two other vehicles found in the parking lot had been hit by the gunfire. The bullets went through the doors, including a door post, and flattened a tire. The Sheriff's Office impounded the vehicles and confiscated the guns to examine them for clues.
Patterson had been arrested at least 13 times in Orange County on charges related to drugs, violence and firearms. Sharpe, known as "Booty," did not have a record in Orange County.
The killings -- the 55th and 56th in the unincorporated area of the county so far this year -- are being investigated with the help of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
So far, ATF agents based in Orlando discovered that one of the guns, a 9mm Sig-Sauer pistol, was stolen with 46 other firearms in a 2004 burglary of Shoot Straight- Casselberry, a Seminole County gun shop. One of the AK-47s shows likely signs of having been stolen because the serial number had been filed in an attempt to remove it, detectives said.
Henry Pierson Curtis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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